‘Gem of the ocean’ is a play written by eminent American playwright August Wilson. The plot of the play is set in the year 1904 and the main characters are Aunt Tyler, Citizen Barlow, Solly two kings, Black Mary, Caesar Eli and Selig. Aunt Tyler is the central character of the play and is a former slave who is now a soul cleanser. Prompt I: African American History & Gem of the Ocean: The end of the nineteenth century saw a radical transformation and the blacks got more rights as compared to the previous decades. African Americans experienced huge mental trauma especially during post slavery era and the US laws were less significant in reducing the effect on the African Americans. Even though there had been a number of US legislations, yet Slavery seemed to be an inborn part of the African American. There were no more options available to an African American other than being either forced into Slavery or becoming the servant of whites. The blacks completely resisted Slavery and treated it to be the most dreadful act that a person could face in his life. Evidence Supporting Point: Citizen Barlow’s dialogue in the book in page number 59 which states that “making the people owe is worse than slavery and Solly’s dialogues of Ain’t ……………….ground” Citizen Barlow states that slavery is better than making the people owe to you but Solly emphasizes that Slavery is the most dreadful crime committed on a human. Evidence Supporting Point: The blacks had separate sleeping places and could not become an eminent part in the society and were treated differently. Black Mary’s dialogue: “He probably goes down under the Brady Street Bridge to sleep. They got a whole bunch of people sleeping down there.” In page 10 in the book, there is a clear indication of how badly the Africans were treated. Black Mary refers to the African Americans, who are usually assigned separate sleeping places and in this play they usually sleep under the Brady Street Bridge. Prompt II: Aunt Ester: One of the most interesting things about the play is the characters. When I read it, the first thing that strikes me is the age of the main character Aunt Ester, who holds 285 years of experience with her. I think that the author did this to talk effectively about the background of the African American when they were slaves of the white people. Aunt Esther used to be a troubled soul but her years of experiences turned her into a wise person. She holds on to the memories of the entire history of the Africans in America, “People say you crazy to remember. But I ain’t afraid to remember. I try to remember out loud. I keep my memories alive. I feed them. I got to feed them otherwise they’d eat me up. I got memories go way back. I’m carrying them for a lot of folk” (Walseth par. 1). The age of Aunt Esther may be unreal for many readers but I feel that it is very effective to make others remember about the slavery days and how the Africans were treated in those days. It also illustrates the fact that they have come from a long line of abuse and hardships which continues till the 1904’s. Aunt Esther represents the old traditions while Black Mary, her successor represents the forward thinking African American. She likes to do things her own way, “It’s been three years now. I can’t do nothing to satisfy you. I may as well lay down somewhere and forget about it…
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Visual Arts and Film Studies 26 Jan. 2012 Response paper on August Wilson’s play Gem of the Ocean This paper focuses on August Wilson’s play ‘Gem of the Ocean’. Through the analysis of August Wilson’s ‘Gem of the Ocean’, the focus is also given on the relevant African and American theatres…
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